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Yes, God, Yes gets stuck in a plot purgatory

Vertical Entertainment

“Guys are like microwave ovens and ladies are like conventional ovens. Guys only need a few seconds, you know, like a microwave, to get switched on, while ladies, they typically need to preheat for a while,” says a priest teaching a morality class at the beginning of Yes, God, Yes, introducing both his students and the audience to a long journey of unresolved sexual tension.

Yes, God, Yes is an independent coming-of-age film directed and written by Karen Maine, known for her role as the co-writer of the 2014 comedy Obvious Child. Yes, God, Yes stars Natalia Dyer as the 15-year-old main character Alice stuck amidst an internal conflict between her sexual desires and the ideals that her rigidly Catholic high school has installed in her.

Originally a 53-second short created in 2017, Yes, God, Yes was rewritten into a full-length film and set to come out in the summer of 2020, but was limited to airing in select drive-in theaters and a Netflix placement in late October.

The first act of the film introduces Alice and sets the scene in a small Midwestern town in the early 2000s. As it progresses, the film continues to make small references to the early 2000s that it assumes its audience is familiar with, such as AOL chat rooms, unbreakable Nokias with Snake and lots of catfishing.

Maine does a fantastic job inciting intentional discomfort by building up the awkward tension directly to the viewer. This discomfort — though granted — is unpleasant, is what makes the film relatable to anyone who experienced teenagerhood, regardless of how niche of a story the film is telling.

Yes, God, Yes’ religious context in combination with its awkward motifs, help perpetuate Alice’s character, which Dyer does an excellent job of portraying.

Being set in a Catholic school, the film expectantly explores themes of religion and the cynicism behind it.

The further the story progresses, the more the weight of irony grows, so much so that every dialogue in the third act seems to be laced with tablespoons of sarcasm.

While exploring religious irony, Maine also puts quite a heavy emphasis on misogyny in the way society — religious or not — views sex and women. Not only is this evident through the explicitly misogynistic and crude language casually thrown by the characters, but also in the contrast that men that are presumed to be sexually active are treated, as opposed to women.

Though Maine’s writing and directing of the film finishes with a rather satisfying catharsis to the themes of uneasiness and sexual tension through religious irony to a somewhat anticlimactic climax, the theme of misogyny is never quite addressed as the story ends.

This brings out the question of whether the overall climax of the film was satisfying enough and got its message across as clearly as it should have. Had the writers simply relied on the somewhat obvious nature of the film to speak for itself? Though a beautiful work of art with an excellent depiction of symbolism, raw emotion and masterfully-written dialogue, the film falls short in really only one major detail – its plot.

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